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Burnham, Dorothy K.

Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum, c1986. 102pp, paper, $24.95, ISBN 0-88854-322-0. CIP

Grades 8 and up
Reviewed by Christine Buchanan

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

Distinguished Canadian textile expert Dorothy Burnham's long association with the Royal Ontario Museum has resulted in several important exhibitions, projects, and publications, among them the widely esteemed books Cut My Cote (R.O.M., 1973), and "Keep Me Warm One Night" (University of Toronto Press, 1972). Now, Canadians are fortunate that she has turned her attention to the distinctive textile traditions of the Doukhobors who came to Canada from Russia around the turn of the century and afterwards. While working on an exhibition of Canadian spinning and weaving, Burnham discovered that this aspect of the Doukhobors' lives was not properly recorded, and that the number of individuals with first-hand memories of those early days was rapidly dwindling.

Supported by a Canada Council grant and a driver who also served as a translator, Dorothy Burnham set out on a journey of discovery, visiting museums, private and public collections, and conducting many personal interviews. She photographed between three and four hundred items of clothing, household linens, rugs, needlework, and textile tools, and compiled extensive notes, anecdotes, and technical information. From many archives, she chose compelling early photographs showing these textiles being made, worn, and used, in farms, fields, and on every social occasion from feasts to funerals.

The result of this labour of love is a fascinating record not only of the spinning, weaving, rugmaking, embroidery, and clothing of the Doukhobors from a technical standpoint, but also of the ways in which the making and using of these textiles formed part of their hardworking and sometimes tragic lives. Anyone especially interested in textiles will find Unlike the Lilies essential, but even the general reader without this specific approach will enjoy this book as social history that truly comes alive.

In addition to the many black-and-white photographs, there are sixteen pages of colour plates, several diagrams, a glossary of Russian and English textile terms, notes, and a bibliography. Highly recommended for public, school, and university libraries, as well as special libraries dealing with textiles.

Christine Buchanan, Toronto, Ont.
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